The words of the Nicene Creed are a common part of the Christian traditional liturgy. Since before I could read, I have been reciting the words “For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven…” I always knew it meant that Jesus died for all of us, but never took any personal responsibility for His crucifixion.
I returned to the Episcopalian church three years ago after having spent ten years exploring other denominations – Baptist, Catholic, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical, and Non-Denominational.
What I found missing from the Episcopal tradition was the personal relationship with God. All the prayers seemed to be about us, not me. I felt it was too easy to be non-committal to the prayers because I did not have to own them. Since Jesus died for everybody, not just me I did not feel so responsible for my actions outside of church.
That is not the truth. When I change the pronouns the Nicene Creed reads “For me and my salvation He came down for heaven” and later “For my sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried.”
When I change the pronoun in the Lord’s prayer it reads:
[My] Father who art in heaven
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give [me] this day [my] daily bread.
And forgive [me my] trespasses,
as [I] forgive those who have trespassed against [me].
And lead [me] not into temptation
but deliver [me] from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.
By changing the pronoun, I accept personal responsibility, but it also allows the love of God to wash over me. Jesus died for me. He knows my name. He will not let me go hungry. He will help me fight the battles of temptation. He forgives me.
Coming to this understanding allows me to make a full circle back to the communal recitation. Now that I am aware that “I” am included in “we” and “us” I feel genuine in praying these prayers. When I say “we,” I think of my children, parents, friends, fellow parishioners, and even my ex when I say them. To share the forgiveness, blessing, and favor of God is a powerful gift that God has given us.
Thank you for your church and the ability to worship together. Help us to remember that when we say communal prayers that the entire body of Christ is praying for us as individuals. You know the trials that we are facing. We pray especially for those that are struggling in their marriage. You have designed marriage to be a perfect union between spouses, but so many couples are out of sync with each other and with you. We pray that you will bring husbands and wives closer to each other and to you through daily personal reflection and weekly communal prayer. Give us patience, Lord as we wait for your miracle.
In Jesus name,